Carers’ lunch saved by the power of Twitter

Carers, brought together by a Norwich woman and her website, are set to meet each other in person thanks to the generosity of a local businessman - and the power of the Evening News' Twitter feed.

Wendy Maxwell, of Hellesdon, runs the Chill 4 Us site which allows more than 600 people to share problems and advice with other carers across the country who understand what they are going through.

But most of the website's members, who are needed 24 hours a day by a vulnerable family member and rarely manage to leave their homes, have never met face to face.

Mrs Maxwell, 68, wanted to change that and arranged for a group of eight - including four from Norfolk - to meet for lunch in Peterborough next Thursday.

She said: 'The carers are paying for their own transport and some are staying over night and have paid for that. We had hoped to pay for everyone's lunch and we wondered if someone could help us with this because we do not have the funding.

'It means such a lot to them to be able to meet their friends.'

Attempts to get a grant to cover the �20-a-head dinner failed and the carers - who are already strapped for cash - looked set to have to reach into their pockets once again to pay for it.

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But after sending an email to the Evening News yesterday, a plea was put out on the paper's Twitter feed - @eveningnews - to find someone to fund it.

In less than an hour a Norwich-based graphic designer responded to the call for help, offering to cover the �150 cost of the meal and added a further �50 for carers to enjoy a post-meal drink.

The anonymous donor said: 'My mum looked after my gran for years and I saw how difficult it was and how little help she received.

'I am more than happy to help. Carers don't get nearly enough recognition and they definitely deserve a treat - I hope they have a wonderful time.'

An emotional Mrs Maxwell, who cares for a member of her family, was delighted when she heard the news. 'That's absolutely wonderful,' she said. 'That will mean so much to them. I can't wait to tell them. Thank you so much.'

The eight carers, who will travel from places including Norfolk, London and Lancashire, will head to Peterborough on Thursday for lunch at the Great Northern Hotel.

Stacia Briggs, who runs the Evening News' Twitter account, said: 'I have been amazed at the generosity of our thousands of followers who have often offered their money, time or help when I have made an online plea.

'Twitter really is a magical resource and I am happy that we were able to help this group of people that dedicate their lives to helping other people.'